Is there now such a thing as Neo-Classic ’70s Country-Rock?
Beware may be the best country-rock album David Allan Coe never got around to making himself. Will Oldham’s stage persona, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, stepped up the ranks of his backing musicians on recent albums, abandoning his team of rough, occasionally error-prone indie rockers for tight ensembles who can replicate a 1970s outlaw-country band without dropping a false note. While no country rocker would likely ruminate in the elliptical, often illusory prose Oldham favors, they’d surely embrace the sweet ballroom-dance harmonies of “I Don’t Belong to Anyone,” the gallant clomp of “You Don’t Love Me” and “I Am Goodbye,” and the sweet, forlorn plod of “You Are Lost.” Oldham still finds room to stretch beyond the borders. “There Is Something I Have To Say” swells in that listless ennui he favored in a past life, while “Afraid Ain’t Me”—with its gypsy punch—adds flute and violin with an ear toward Desire-era Dylan.